Companies will be able to block ambitious climate change policies, unless EU countries withdraw from a 1994 international energy treaty, heard the audience at Friends of Europe’s Climate and Energy Summit on 14 June 2022.
Sixteen high-level speakers, including Mechthild Wörsdörfer, European Commission Deputy Director for Energy; Laura Cozzi, International Energy Agency (IEA) Chief Energy Modeler; Ismail Ertug, Member of the European Parliament; Vítor Gaspar, Fiscal Affairs Director of Fiscal Affairs at the International Monetary Fund (IMF); Enass Abo-Hamed, Co-Founder & CEO at H2GO Power and 2022 European Young Leader (EYL40); Ann Mettler, Vice-President, Europe at Breakthrough Energy; Sascha Thielmann, Head of Energy Policy Support Programme at GIZ; Simone Mori, Head of Europe at Enel Group; and Martin O’Neill, Vice-President of Strategy at GE Gas Power; along with an audience of over 100 people took pulse of the ongoing climate and energy crises. They focused on how to strengthen the EU’s energy sovereignty, the development of clean technologies, and the role of sustainable finance in cutting down emissions.
Under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), “foreign investors will be able to sue us for fossil fuels,” warned Yamina Saheb, Lead Author at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Denmark, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands are among countries facing over 100 Investment Dispute Settlement claims, brought under the ECT, over national plans to phase out coal and other fossil fuel investments, Saheb said. France last year coordinated efforts to take the EU and its member states out of the ECT, saying the treaty was outdated.
On 24 June, ECT signatories will meet at an Extraordinary Energy Charter Conference in Brussels to discuss proposals to modernise the treaty. Saheb said this would be the last chance for the EU to withdraw from the treaty and close a “loophole” she believes is killing off ambitious climate action. “EU energy policies are not going to happen unless we withdraw.”
During the summit, moderator Dharmendra Kanani said the twin crises of the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “created a perfect storm” for Europe to navigate when it comes to future-proofing energy and climate action. He was optimistic that climate policy would be able to get through the bad weather and that the EU has shown itself capable of reacting swiftly to unforeseen circumstances. “Things that were not possible three years ago are now happening in weeks,” Kanani said.
Diederik Samsom, Head of Cabinet of the Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, agreed that the EU was not only on track but “over track” to meet renewable energy and emission-reduction targets. The twin crises of Ukraine and COVID-19 “have put the EU Green Deal on steroids – and then supercharged it,” he said. The EU adopted a €750bn investment package in 2020 to restart post-pandemic economic recovery, including in clean energy, and approved the REPowerEU policy this year to end the use of Russian fossil fuels.
REPowerEU will help Europe meet climate goals, but work had been already set in progress by proposals under the ‘Fit for 55’ package, said Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, Chairman of the Board of Directors of ENGIE. To meet the objectives set by ‘Fit for 55’, Europe now needs “collaboration, between the European Commission, member states and the private sector.”
“We know if we want to meet these commitments we’ve got to move to renewable energy,” said Constance Kann, Sustainability and Quality Management Director at the European Investment Bank. Since the EU is behind when it comes to installing wind capacity, and because both solar and wind are “intermittent” sources of energy, she said emerging technologies including hydrogen, power storage, and carbon capture, use and storage must also be examined.
When it comes to climate change, Caroline Golin, Head of Global Energy Policy and Market Development at Google, warned that there was a need for “incentives and structures” to align corporates with public policy. This could make it harder for companies to say they were carbon neutral if they didn’t also support a wider social shift to clean energy.
For companies to be able to put a clean energy transition at the heart of their policies, “it is very important to have a clear taxonomy,” added Xavier Girre, EDF Group Senior Executive Vice-President. A green taxonomy should help investors identify long-term, low-carbon investment options in Europe.
With questions mounting on the horizon and the risk of international arbitration hovering, Samsom shared words to guide all those on the road to an ever-stronger EU climate and energy policy: “Don’t be discouraged by the size of the mountain in front of you. Just start walking and you will make it.”
The ongoing energy crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine reveals flaws in our current models and shows that the EU has numerous obstacles to tackle on the path to climate neutrality by 2050. This context gives momentum to the climate emergency and creates growing urgency to take stronger climate action and build a sustainable future. This year’s edition of our Climate and Energy Summit aims to take the pulse of the climate crisis and energy transition, by focusing on how to strengthen EU’s energy sovereignty, the development of clean technologies and the role of sustainable finance in cutting down emissions.
As in previous years, our Climate and Energy Summit attracted senior participants, including policymakers, industry leaders, civil society representatives and members of the international press from Europe and beyond. The event took place in person in Brussels and was also available to a wider audience via livestream.
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The EU currently imports about 40% of its gas, 27% of its oil and over 45% of its coal from Russia. This energy dependency was aggravated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with a steep increase in gas and oil prices. In response to the crisis, the European Commission published its REPowerEU initiative, aiming to make Europe independent from Russian fossil fuels before 2030. The plan is to slash by two-thirds the consumption of Russian gas by the end of 2022. Rapid and massive deployment of renewable energy is at the core of this plan, as the EU aims to increase its renewable energy target to 45%. In the short term, however, the plan also provides for the diversification of the EU’s oil and gas supply, including agreements on LNG with the US and Canada, and ongoing discussions with Egypt, Israel, Algeria, Qatar and others. In the meantime, EU citizens are encouraged to turn down their thermostats by 1°C to reduce gas demand. However, around 31 million Europeans are already living in energy poverty, unable to keep their homes adequately warm.
In this context, the European Parliament and the Council have the challenging task of finalising their positions on the ‘Fit for 55’ package – an overhaul of the EU’s entire energy policy on the path to 2050 climate neutrality. Two climate files under the package failed to pass in the European Parliament plenary last week and were sent back to Committee. Is ’Fit for 55’ still fit for purpose in the current context and are the short-term actions under RePowerEU aligned with the EU’s long-term climate goals?
- What will be the impact of the war in Ukraine and its energy implications on the initiatives under the ‘Fit for 55′ package? How can measures taken to address the ongoing energy crisis also enable a just and fair transition to climate neutrality?
- What measures should be taken by the EU as well as the member states to ensure that the issue of energy poverty is successfully tackled, and the most vulnerable citizens do not suffer in the ongoing energy crisis?
- What should be done to help companies affected by high energy prices reduce their exposure to price volatility, while enabling them take stronger climate action in the long term?
Chairman of the Board of Directors of ENGIE
Chief Energy Modeller of the International Energy Agency (IEA)
Head of Europe at Enel Group
Head of Cabinet of Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans
Head of Energy Policy Support Programme, German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ)
Deputy Director-General for Energy at the European Commission
Clean technology has a big role to play in building up the EU’s renewable and low-carbon energy capacity, ever more so given the urgency to reduce EU’s dependency on Russian gas. Most of the emission reductions for this decade can be delivered by already existing solutions, however, reaching climate neutrality will require technologies that are not yet at scale.
While the EU is unlikely to eclipse China or the US in spending on clean technology, the bloc does have unrivalled standard-setting power by way of its regulatory framework. The EU Industrial Strategy recognises the competitive advantage of gearing industry towards climate neutrality; however, the policy does not yet have the necessary flesh on the bone. The European Battery Alliance and the Clean Hydrogen Partnership aim to help in developing these strategic industries, but the question remains whether the EU is scaling up its clean technology sectors at the necessary pace to become climate neutral by 2050.
- What are the different innovation initiatives that exist at the EU level for critical climate technologies and infrastructure? And should the EU develop a new innovation framework?
- Are the current EU proposals a good basis for the EU battery and hydrogen markets of the future? What other key technologies are needed to enable the energy transition while also ensuring security of supply? Can Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage be a feasible solution in the EU?
- What policy and regulatory support does the private sector need to scale up existing climate clean technologies?
Co-Founder and CEO of H2GO Power and 2022 European Young Leader (EYL40)
Global Head of Energy Market Development and Policy at Google
Vice President, Europe at Breakthrough Energy
Head of Strategy at GE Gas Power
Vice-Chair of Working Group III on Climate Change Mitigation, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
The EU aims to intensify its efforts to mobilise private funding for the energy transition, while ensuring that such financial flows are consistent with the transition to a climateneutral future. Seen as the cornerstone for financing the European Green Deal, the EU Taxonomy is meant to be the guiding star for sustainable investment. With the first delegated acts on the table, sustainable finance is moving from theory to practice. The inclusion of natural gas and nuclear as a bridge to a cleaner energy system has been fuelling a heated debate in the EU, with stakeholder opinions largely divided. This came at a time of insecurity of supply and soaring energy prices exacerbated by the ongoing war in Ukraine. Moreover, the Commission’s plans to slash by two-thirds the consumption of Russian gas by the end of 2022 is currently paving the way to nuclear.
Meanwhile, the European Green Bond Standard (EUGBS), proposed in July 2021, will use the Taxonomy as the basis to develop a gold standard for how companies and public authorities can use green bonds to raise funds to finance large-scale investments, while meeting tough sustainability requirements. While the co-legislators are yet to have their say, the European Commission has already used the framework to issue green bonds to finance the recovery fund.
- Is the EU sustainable finance framework sufficient to attract the level of investment needed to reach the ambitious EU climate goals?
- To what extent can gas and nuclear energy be qualified as sustainable investments? Does the EU need to rethink its approach on financing these energy sources in the current geopolitical context?
- How can the EUGBS stimulate the development of a global green bond market? Which checks and balances need to be introduced to ensure that green bonds only finance sustainable investments and should the EUGBS be made mandatory in the longer term?
Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
Member of the European Parliament
Director of the Fiscal Affairs Department at the IMF
EDF Group Senior Executive Vice-President, Finance
Sustainability and Quality Management Director at the European Investment Bank (EIB)
Lead Author at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Enass is the Co-Founder and CEO of H2GO Power, an award-winning British company that develops hydrogen energy storage technologies. Her designs for a new energy storage system can guarantee stable supply of renewable energy for areas in developing countries with limited or no access to the electrical grid. With over a decade of both research and business experience in renewables and energy storage, Enass champions climate entrepreneurship and clean energy technology. She is currently a Member of the Advisory Board of General Atlantic’s BeyondNetZero $4bn equity growth climate fund, a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellow and a technology consultant for the European Research Executive Agency. Enass has received several awards in recognition of her work, including the MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 Europe Visionary of the Year award and the Best Energy Start-up award at the Global Hello Tomorrow Summit.
Throughout his career, Jean-Pierre Clamadieu presided over some of the biggest industry players in Europe. He started his career within the French public sector at the Ministry of Industry and as technical advisor to the Minister of Labour. Later on, as member of the Rhône-Poulenc group, he held several management positions. Jean-Pierre was CEO and Chairman-CEO of the Rhodia group before becoming Vice Chairman of the Solvay Executive Committee. He then served as Chairman of the Executive Committee and CEO of Solvay. Since 2018, he has served as the Director and Chairman of the Board of Engie as well as Senior Independent Director of the AXA Board of Directors.
As Chief Energy Modeller, Laura Cozzi oversees the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) outlooks and forecasts. She is in charge of ensuring the consistency of the modelling work and the resulting messages. Cozzi is also Head of the Demand Outlook Division, responsible for producing the annual World Energy Outlook: the IEA flagship publication that is regarded as the gold standard in energy analysis. The Division produces medium- to long-term energy demand, efficiency, power generation, renewables and environmental analysis for this report and other publications.
Bas Eickhout has been a member of the European Parliament and delegation leader of the Dutch Greens since 2009. He is a member and coordinator of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and a substitute member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Committee on Budgetary Control. Eickhout is also a member of the Delegation for relations with the People’s Republic of China and a substitute member of the Delegation for relations with the United States. He worked on several projects on international environmental problems, such as climate change, agriculture, land-use and biofuels. He co-authored the IPCC report on climate change, which received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
Ismail Ertug serves as a Member of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) and the Delegation for relations with the People’s Republic of China. His work focuses on the future of mobility, the reduction of CO2 emissions, the introduction of alternative and cleaner means of propulsion, as well as the increase of automation and digitalisation. Ertug stands for the rights of rail passengers and supports the simplification of cross-border travel, as well as the regulation of guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network. He has previously served as vice-president of the S&D Group and acted as coordinator of the S&D Group in the TRAN Committee.
Vitor Gaspar is the Director of the Fiscal Affairs Department at the IMF. Before that, he was the Portuguese Minister of State and Finance, and has held various positions in European and Portuguese institutions, including head of BEPA at the European Commission, director-general of research at the European Central Bank, director of Economic Studies and Statistics at the Central Bank of Portugal, and Director of Economic Studies at the Portuguese Ministry of Finance.
Xavier Girre has 25 years of experience in top management positions. Girre is the current Group Executive Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer of EDF group. Prior to that, he was Group Executive Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer of La Poste group, and Chief Executive Officer of the XAnge private equity fund. He spent 12 years within Veolia as Group Chief Risk and Audit Officer and Executive Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer of Transportation and Environmental Services. Girre is also Director and Chairman of the Audit Committee at FDJ (SBF120 company).
Dr Caroline Golin is responsible for energy market policy and advocacy across Google’s global energy portfolio, with the goal of accelerating electricity system decarbonisation in all places where Google operates. She has worked in the clean energy industry for over 15 years, having built two companies and served as a strategic consultant for clean energy firms, advocacy organisations and elected officials. Golin previously worked with US energy regulators at the local, state and national level to create market solutions for renewable energy integration and electric grid efficiency. She also often volunteers with local NGO partners in the Dominican Republic, India and Thailand to create sustainable water and energy infrastructure solutions that provide economic empowerment opportunities for women of marginalised communities.
Constance Kann took up her current role within the European Investment Bank (EIB) focused on sustainability and impact in 2021. Prior to that, she helped develop the Bank’s policy agenda and relations with the EU institutions, following a role as Director of Corporate Responsibility and Communication.
Prior to joining the EIB, Kann was the Managing Director for Group Communications for the Zurich-based global re-insurance company Swiss Re, Before taking up this role, she worked with Unilever as Senior Vice President Global Communications. She started her career in consultancy as Managing Director of the Brussels office for Edelman Public Relations Worldwide.
At Breakthrough Energy, an organisation founded by Bill Gates, Ann Mettler works with European partners to accelerate clean tech innovation in pursuit of climate neutrality and net-zero emissions. Previously, she served as director-general at the European Commission, where she ran the internal strategy department. An entrepreneur at heart, Mettler co-founded The Lisbon Council, a Brussels-based knowledge economy think tank, which she ran for more than a decade. She began her career at the World Economic Forum, where she led the Europe department.
Before becoming Enel Group’s Head of Europe, Simone Mori served as Head of European Affairs and as Head of Europe and Mediterranean Affairs. Mori has been the Chairman of Elettricità Futura, the main association of the Italian electricity sector, and remains a member of the Governing Council. He previously served in a number of capacities within the Enel Group. As Head of Regulatory Affairs, Environment and Innovation he was responsible for regulatory issues in Italy and abroad, antitrust and environmental policies, and the carbon strategy of the company.
Martin O’Neill is responsible for driving the long-term strategy of Gas Power with a particular focus on decarbonisation. He is an expert in product design, programme and technical leadership across the power generation, marine, aviation and transportation sectors. O’Neill has a keen interest in the developing power market, technological and commercial disruptors, and geopolitical factors that influence the pace of the energy transition globally. He previously held leadership positions in engineering and programme management at Bombardier and Rolls Royce, where his work focused on the development, adoption and integration of breakthrough technologies.
Before joining the Cabinet of the Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Diederik Samsom was a member of the Dutch Parliament for the Labour Party (Partij van de Arbeid). He also served as the leader of the Labour Party and has been the party’s spokesperson on environmental subjects. Samsom has a long history in the field, working for Greenpeace Netherlands and as the Chief Executive Officer of Real Energy (Echte Energie), a small green energy trading company.
As Head of GIZ’s Energy Policy Support Programme, Sascha Thielmann advises the sector unit of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) on a wide range of energy topics to assist in the implementation of BMZ’s energy sector strategy. Prior to that, he headed the South African-German Energy Programme and coordinated GIZ’s energy portfolio in South Africa. As senior adviser and manager, he was previously responsible for designing and supporting programmes to promote energy transitions in various countries in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Diana Ürge-Vorsatz serves as Vice-Chair of IPCC’s Working Group III. She is a Professor at the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy at the Central European University, where she previously headed the department and directed the PhD programme. She is an Associate Editor of the Energy Efficiency journal, Member of the Annual Reviews of Environment and Resources Editorial Board, and serves on the governing and advisory boards of several organizations, including Innogy (formerly RWE), the European Climate Foundation (ECF) and the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC). The former coordinating lead author of two Assessment Reports of the IPCC, she has also previously served on the United Nations Scientific Expert Group on Climate Change and led the buildings-related work in the Global Energy Assessment.
Building on her decades-long experience in energy policy, Mechthild Wörsdörfer is in charge of the European Commission’s work on the coordination of the just and green energy transition. Before taking up her current position, she worked as the director for sustainability, technology and outlooks at the International Energy Agency. Prior to that, Wörsdörfer worked on a wide range of energy files at the European Commission, from renewables, energy efficiency and innovation to the 2030 Energy and Climate Framework. She previously served in the cabinet of Erkki Liikanen, during his term as European Commissioner for Enterprise Policy and Information Society.
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